Tony Buckingham poised to float Heritage exploration company

TONY BUCKINGHAM, the oil and diamond entrepreneur with business links to Sandline International, is seeking a public listing for his exploration company Heritage Oil & Gas.

Business associates yesterday said he was seeking a listing on the Toronto stock exchange. It was said Heritage would be valued at "hundreds of millions of pounds". Mr Buckingham is a key figure in a network of oil and mineral companies which includes Sandline International, the military- advice company being investigated by Customs and Excise as part of the "arms to Africa" affair. He owns a 98-per-cent stake in Heritage, which shares an office in King's Road, Chelsea, with Sandline.

If he successfully floated Heritage, Mr Buckingham would be presented with unprecedented opportunities to raise capital and expand his exploration interests in Africa and the Middle East. Confirmation of the plan to list came from John Teeling, chairman of Petrel Resources, a pounds 3.5m oil- exploration company quoted on Ofex, the lightly regulated share market. "He is going to float Heritage. That's a certainty," Dr Teeling said.

Petrel, based in Dublin, is buying from Heritage two stakes in oil and gas projects in Namibia and northern Uganda. In exchange Mr Buckingham will get pounds 250,000 in cash, a 15.5- per-cent stake in Petrel, and a seat on the board.

"By spinning off some very small parts of his interests to us, he can get some valuations," Dr Teeling said.

Harry Wilson, an expert in oil and gas exploration who spent 15 years at BP, will also join the board of Petrel. The company said Mr Wilson would help it get further exploration contracts in "frontier locations" in Africa.